Well, this movie really has it all. The cast reads like a guest list to an Oscar party. The setting is breathtaking. The dialogue is intelligent and the chemistry palpable. So, they have done it: They have proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is no way to make a believable werewolf story. If they still can’t create a respectable wolfman with all the effects technology makes available today, no one can.
Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) has returned to his childhood home in the English countryside after his brother, Ben (Simon Merrells), is murdered by a mysterious beast. Ben’s fiancée, Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt), mourns his death too, as does Lawrence’s oddly distant father, John (Anthony Hopkins). I think we all know the story: Lawrence is attacked, gets turned, falls for Gwen, and we get the distinct impression it’s not going to end well.
From the frame-by-frame morphing of Bela Lugosi in 1941, to the groundbreaking man-to-wolf effects in the 1981 American Werewolf in London, every werewolf movie comes down to one thing: how good is the transformation? Here, considering the technology, the effects are so-so. It’s good with bones stretching and breaking, but the finished product looks like a Halloween costume, and the dismembered, decapitated and eviscerated victims look like something out of the Thriller video. It all goes back to my point: the werewolf story is a hard sell. Here, especially, the attempts to acknowledge werewolf movies of the past with a vampire-ish voiceover and tons (and tons) of time-lapse photography just make it corny.